By Bill Mowry
All of us have a favorite Old Testament personality. One of my favorites is the leader and nation-builder, Joshua. Joshua’s impact was so significant that the author of Judges wrote, “The people served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua.” (Judges 1:7) But then comes one of the saddest verses in the Bible.
When Joshua and his contemporaries passed away, “another generation grew up , who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel” (Judges 2:10). What a sad commentary on a group of leaders. How did this happen? A clue is found in what’s missing from the biblical record.
From the beginning of the exodus, Moses came alongside of Joshua, preparing him for leadership. When Moses received the Law, “Joshua his aid” was with him (Exodus 24:13). Joshua witnessed Moses’ friendship with God (Exodus 33:11). At the end of his life, Moses laid his hands on Joshua, filling him with the spirit of wisdom (Deuteronomy 34:9). The Israelites naturally followed him because Moses’ stamp of authority was on his life (Deuteronomy 34:9). Moses came alongside of Joshua, ministering to him life-to-life.
What’s missing in the record of Judges? There’s no mention of Joshua mentoring another leader to take his place! It appears that he neglected this important principle of generations. Leaders should always be training a replacement.
One of Protestantism’s greatest evangelists was the 18th century preacher, George Whitfield. Whitfield’s ministry touched tens of thousands of people in America and in Great Britain, sparking the Great Awakening in the Colonies. He was a contemporary and friend with another great British leader, John Wesley. As Whitfield faced the cessation of his ministry, he sadly lamented:
“My brother Wesley acted wisely. The souls that were awakened under his ministry he joined in societies [small groups]; and thus preserved the fruit of his labor. This I neglected and my people are a rope of sand”.
What a sad commentary! Without a commitment to disciplemaking, we can leave behind a slowly dissolving legacy like a rope of sand. Making disciples life to life helps ensure successive generations of people loving and serving God. Alongsiders are committed to generations.
Stop for a reality check: are you a Moses or a Joshua?
- Who are you intentionally discipling?
- Are you investing in a replacement for your small group or ministry responsibility?
- Is the person you’re discipling praying and looking for the next generation
Are you following up on your “action step” from the Disciple conference? Resolve today to be intentional about making disciples. Future generations depend upon this commitment of being an alongsider. Join the alongsider adventure!